Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Minimum wage housing

There is an image making the rounds online that claims that there aren't any states where a person can afford a two-bedroom apartment on a 40 hour a week minimum wage income. Minimum wage isn't much, but is the image's claim true?

Lets start with where I live... In Maryland, the minimum wage currently stands at $7.25 per hour. Before taxes, that gives us a monthly income of $1,160. Housing costs can vary a lot depending on condition, accommodations, and location... But I found apartments as cheap as $300 per month online. So right there we can see that the claim being made in the image is a false one.

Unfortunately, some have taken that info and pointed at it as proof that there is no need to raise the minimum wage. But is that true? Sure they can afford an apartment, but can they afford life? I could buy a $150,000 car or I could have bought my home. I could afford either, but not both. My realtor told us we could buy twice as much house as we did. Sure, we could afford the house... but not anything else!

The cheapest apartment would leave an extra $860 for the entire month. But add in electric, water/sewer, gasoline, phone and/or internet, heat in Winter and cooling in Summer, insurance (renters and car), car payments or maintenance, etc and you are cutting it pretty tight. And that's with just one person living if the cheapest housing available.

But most of the apartments listed where at least a little more than $300, and add in any dependents and it's game over. Sure, a 40 hour minimum wage job may rent an apartment, but it isn't a living wage. A place to live isn't of much use if you can't eat, light it or live in it properly.

To claim that the ability to scrape by enough to afford an apartment proves that the minimum wage is in no need of a raise is oversimplifying a much more nuanced issue. And since inflation just keeps getting worse, things are only getting tighter and tougher.

So yes, the image is making a false claim, but the opponent's jump conclusion is also equally false.

-Brain Hulk

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